Article by Bruce Tomaso, published on February 20, 2013 in the Dallas Morning News.
A Dallas jury has awarded $10.5 million to the family of a woman who was killed when she was run over outside a topless club in 2011.
The woman, 23-year-old Kasey McKenzie, was crushed under the wheels of a ‘monster truck’ driven by Eric Brent Crutchfield, a patron who had been drinking heavily at the Spearmint Rhino Gentlemen’s Club near Walnut Hill Lane and the Stemmons Freeway.
The verdict against the club came in the trial of a civil suit alleging that employees of the Spearmint Rhino continued to serve drinks to Crutchfield over a period of three or four hours, “even though it was or should have been apparent … that Crutchfield was intoxicated to the extent that he presented a clear danger to himself and others.”
An attorney for Spearmint Rhino declined to comment on the verdict.
Crutchfield ran over McKenzie in the parking lot of the strip club as he was leaving around 2 a.m. on March 17, 2011. According to the lawsuit, his blood alcohol content was about twice the legal limit. He told investigators that he had no idea he’d hit anyone.
He was driving a Ford F-250 pickup that had been modified with a lift kit to elevate the body several feet above the ground. Police later determined that some modifications to the truck were illegal and that it should not have been on the road.
Crutchfield, who was 27 at the time of McKenzie’s death, pleaded guilty last May to a charge of manslaughter, for which he was sentenced to three years in prison. Additionally, he’d been on probation since 2007 for possession of steroids, and after he killed McKenzie, the judge in the steroids case revoked that probation and sentenced him to 10 years in prison.
The suit was filed in behalf of McKenzie’s family by Michael Schmidt of The Schmidt Firm in Dallas.
Under the so-called ‘dram shop’ doctrine, bars, restaurants, liquor stores, and other establishments can be held liable if they serve alcohol to customers who are clearly intoxicated.
A spokesperson for The Schmidt Firm said the $10.5 million jury award was believed to be the biggest dram shop verdict in Dallas County in recent history.
Article by Bruce Tomaso, published in February 20, 2013 in the Dallas Morning News.